I am Nurul Khansa Fauziyah, a student of Magister Sociology Programme Universitas Indonesia and I am currently writing my thesis. Since my bachelor degree, I was dreamed about studying abroad. But destiny still kept me in Indonesia for my master degree. At the end of 2015 I received information about Frans Seda Foundation’s “Twin Scholarship” programme from the Head of Magister Sociology Department in my campus. The programme offered us the opportunity to conduct a 3 months research in Tilburg University in the Netherlands. In 2016 I have tried to apply but failed. One year later I tried again and unexpectedly I passed the selection. Although it was hard to believe, the opportunity became more real day by day as Mr Mikhael Dua called me several times to prepare my departure.
One month before departure to the Netherlands, I welcomed Yanwei, a Twin Scholarships’ awardee from Tilburg University who did her research at Universitas Indonesia. We spent a lot of time together, while I improved my english skills before I went to Netherlands. She gaves me some information about Tilburg. Two weeks before I left Indonesia, FSF arranged a sharing session with Twin Scholarships alumnus. I also met another awardee from Tilburg University, Nathan. I, Novia and Reynold (the other awardees from Indonesia), Yanwei, and Nathan helped each other during our reasearch.
On May 21st, 2017 at 9 CET I arrived at Schipol Airport. It was summer season. So, I was not afraid of the weather outside. However, as we got out of the Tilburg station, the air felt pretty tight and cold. Then I almost always wore a jacket everywhere. It is not a secret that the Netherlands has uncertain weather conditions, it was sometimes windy, sometimes rainy and sometimes freezing for me.
My experience in Tilburg began with Ramadhan Fasting. From May 26th until June 25th, Novia and I experienced our first fasting in Europe. We enjoyed fasting 19 hours a day. It was like a jetlag after jetlag. My body had not adapted to the local time yet, but I had to switch my sleeping time again after beeing up all night. Lucky for us, the air never felt hot, so our fasting did not feel too hard.
While adapted to all those conditions, I began to find a way to get data for my research. My supervisor in Tilburg University was Prof. Herman L. Beck. He gave me advice on how to find the sources in Tilburg. Rennie Roos from the Frans Seda Foundation also gave me advice about how to get data in the Netherlands. Rennie helped the awardees since the begining of this programme until now. I also met the head of Frans Seda Foundation, Mr. Dolf Huijger. He helped me to get connected with a senior advisor of the Dutch Electoral Council. It only took 1 week to arrange the interview which gave me a lot of information about the electoral system of the Netherlands.
We also met with several alumnus who were ready to provide us with the information we needed. Abel and Daan even welcomed us on our second day in Tilburg. I, Novia, and Reynold prepared almost all of our trip together, such as finding a place to live and openening a bank account. But whenever we had difficulties, the foundation always was ready to help. Self-preparation gave us a lot of valuable experiences. We learned quickly how to adapt to the environment, the people, and the culture in Tilburg. My flatmates were a native Tilburg and a Bulgarian. They were very kind and polite. They loved to have a conversation and shared many things, opening up my horizons about Europe. I am very grateful to have had Novia and Reynold as my partners. They were very cheerful and coordinative.
I also had great moments with students from Indonesia. PPI (Indonesian Student Association) Tilburg invited me to pray Eid together and halal bi halal event a few days after Eid. Since then we sometimes spent time together. They also shared a lot of information about the Netherlands and other European countries.
I attended several seminars and academic discussions in other cities. Such as Leiden, Enschede, The Hague, etc. From those events I have gained connections for my research. I interviewed Mr. Gerry Van Klinken and Mr. Ward Berenschot from the KITLV and Universiteit van Amsterdam, only a few days after I met them at a political discussion in Leiden. I also interviewed Ahok’s supporters in the Netherlands. Almost all of the connections I have got independently by attending events. Persistence and agiliity is the key to succesfully get the data.
In my spare time, I enjoyed other cities in the Netherlands. I cycled to Barle-Nassau for 2 hours, which is the closest part of Belgium from Netherlands. I, Novia, and Reynold also cycled to Oisterweijk, an area in Noord Brabant that has beautiful lake views. Even Tilburg University not only has modern facilities, it also has a very interesting forest besides it.
Everything is too hard to forget. Until today, 3 months after returning to Indonesia, the memory of Tilburg is still recorded well in my mind. If there is a chance, I want to go there again and meet the people who have helped me during the 3 months of my research. It is really difficult for me to move on from Tilburg.